Chris Hipkins has surprised even some of his closest friends and backers with the bounce he has secured for Labour in public polls since he became Prime Minister. He has been put to the test since he took over from Jacinda Ardern in the top job, and has shown a quality that was well hidden in his previous portfolios.
It’s not just the long hours he is putting into the job, but projecting the human touch to those hard hit by Cyclone Gabrielle, or the other disasters of recent weeks as well. Then this week he was steering the government in decisions which, as he said, will enable pensioners to start seeing a bit extra in their bank accounts from next month.
For couples over 65, their superannuation payments will now be higher by an extra $102.84 per fortnight between them, while single people living alone will receive an extra $66.86 each payment.
Hipkins said the package of “bread and butter support” would help people who were “really feeling the bite from the rise in the cost of living”. Continue reading “Hipkins shows his quality as PM in securing a bounce for Labour, but now comes the hard part” →
Buzz from the Beehive
Pressure had been mounting on the East Coast long before Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle for the Gisborne District Council to tighten forestry regulations after tonnes of logs and debris clogged waterways during flooding.
Extensive flooding in Marlborough and Tasman last year fortified concerns about the laxity of environmental controls on exotic forestry.
Environmental Defence Society chief executive Gary Taylor wrote for Newsroom that the old method of allowing large scale clear-felling at harvest on erosion-prone land is no longer fit-for-purpose in a climate changing world.
Having large swathes of hill country denuded of stabilising vegetation for several years between forestry cycles is exacerbating run-off volumes and flood velocity, as well as vastly increasing sediment loads entering the coastal marine area. Sediment smothers and kills marine life.
Continue reading “News splash from Nash: he is taking a lash (at long last) at slash – but it’s not so flash Govt will wait for inquiry’s guidance” →
Buzz from the Beehive
Cost-of-living pressures loomed large in Beehive announcements over the past 24 hours.
The PM was obviously keen to announce further measures to keep those costs in check and demonstrate he means business when he talks of focusing his government on bread-and-butter issues.
His statement was headed –
The Government is providing extra cost of living support to families and businesses, delivering on new Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ promise of a greater focus on the issues facing New Zealanders right now.
The timing was exquisite. Continue reading “U-turn on fuel taxes could pump up poll support for Hipkins and Co but the poor – perhaps – won’t notice who benefits most” →
Buzz from the Beehive
Hurrah. Today we found something fresh on the Beehive website, Beehive.govt.nz, which claims to be the best place to find Government initiatives, policies and Ministerial information.
It wasn’t from Finance Minister Grant Robertson, whose reaction to the latest inflation figures would have been appreciated.
So, too, would have been his reaction to the latest Crown financial statements.
The only statement posted on the Beehive website since January 19 came from Maori Development Minister Willie Jackson, who paid tribute to Titewhai Harawira – Continue reading “Tribute has been paid to Titewhai Harawira but Beehive has missed govt response to the CPI and Crown Accounts” →
Buzz from the Beehive
Just two statements had been posted on the Beehive website, when we made our daily check this morning. This suggested the PM and her ministers were easing up on their workloads as Christmas Day nears.
But two more statements have been posted since then, one of them grandly headlined:
New Zealand’s Fourth National Action Plan under the Open Government Partnership was made public today.
This served to remind us of something we had forgotten, if ever we had taken much notice in the first place: there must have been First, Second and Third National Action Plans under the Open Government Partnership.
Whatever happened to them?
We were cheered to learn Chris Hipkins proclaim: Continue reading “Hipkins enthuses about the Fourth National Action Plan – but who remembers the first three?” →
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson had some fun last week at the expense of National leader Christopher Luxon for holidaying in Hawaii while a Facebook entry indicated he was in Te Puke.
This week Robertson is relishing the spectacle of the Commonwealth Games, and the achievements of New Zealand’s sports stars.
He may even succeed in forgetting, at least for a short while, the economic mess that is mounting in NZ – not that he will concede he has had anything to do with inflation breaking into a gold-medal-winning gallop on his watch.
Moreover, he keeps insisting it has already past its prime.
Only last week he was telling his acolytes in Parliament that while the government is acutely aware that many New Zealanders are doing it tough,
“… we are taking action to support them.
“We’ve boosted the incomes of seniors, students in low-income families, while a million New Zealanders are receiving the winter energy payment. From next Monday, the targeted cost of living payment will deliver around $27 a week for low and middle income New Zealanders aged 18 years and over who don’t get the winter energy payment.
“In response to high fuel prices, which have been significantly driven by the war in the Ukraine, we have cut the fuel excise duty and road-user charges and halved public transport costs. Continue reading “While our Finance Minister enjoys the Games, our living costs are high jumping and too many Kiwis are tripping on the hurdles” →
When the country’s newspapers devote their cover pages to advertisements captioned “The cost living crisis”, it’s not something that makes palatable reading for government ministers.
When the advertisements come from an organisation like Kidscan, appealing for donations “to make sure children in poverty get the food they urgently need this winter”, those ministers may well choke on their morning lattes.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has other weighty issues on her mind – at least for now – as she prepares to fly off to Europe to talk trade in Brussels with the EU and security in Madrid with NATO.
But for deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, left to mind the shop while she is away, the media’s highlighting of a cost-of-living crisis and the persistent challenge of child poverty could dampen his normally cheery optimism on the state of the economy.
Yet another dampener would be the latest Westpac McDermott Miller Consumer Confidence Survey, which has recorded the lowest reading on NZ consumer confidence since the survey began in 1988. Continue reading “Poverty and pessimism – slump in consumer confidence brings more unpalatable news to Robertson and the Govt” →
“America’s next downturn may have a mild flavour—but a bitter aftertaste”. So ran a headline in The Economist.
Juxtapose that to New Zealand, and we could be served a double dose of the bitter aftertaste.
The problem here is that the authorities apparently didn’t see it coming and now, as it arrives, they could be slow out of the blocks in dealing with it.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern kept denying there was a cost-of-living “crisis”.
After its impact nevertheless could be seen to be hitting home, the Finance Minister tacked on to the budget some measures he hoped would assuage any pain being felt by New Zealanders — although the queues at foodbanks were already lengthening.
The latest food price index shows a 0.7% increase in food prices for the month of May. Food now costs 8.9% more than at the time of the last election and fruit and veges cost 16% more.
That has given Opposition parties a free hit at the expense of the governing party. Continue reading “Latest food price figures reinforce the economic-performance criticisms Opposition can fling at the Govt” →
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern early in March insisted there was no cost-of-living “crisis” in New Zealand. Now her right-hand man, Grant Robertson, has presented a budget which he proudly claims deals with that very same “crisis”, giving away $1 billion in an emergency cost-of-living package.
About 2.1 million New Zealanders will get a $350 payment spread over three months, while fuel tax cuts and half-price public transport continue for another two months.
Will that be enough to relieve those suffering in what Labour now accepts is a crisis? And will it halt Labour’s slide in the polls.
On that, opinions are mixed, with Labour’s partner in government being the most expressive in their doubts. Here’s what a Green Party press statement had to say on the subject: Continue reading “Robertson tackles the cost-of-living crisis which the PM did not recognise – now let’s see if he can steer clear of recession” →
Finance Minister Grant Robertson managed to put a bold face on his fiscal management last week when he presented the latest set of Crown accounts, saying they “are continuing to reflect the strong position New Zealand is in to manage the challenging global environment”.
Tax revenue in the nine months to March was $2.7 bn above forecast at $78.6bn, due to better-than-expected corporate profits and a strong jobs market. This was partly offset by lower GST returns.
Core Crown expenses were close to forecast at $92.6bn.
The operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) deficit was $8.1bn, $4.1bn below that forecast in December’s Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update.
Robertson commented approvingly:
“This result shows the strong position New Zealand finds itself in, despite the uncertainty and volatility of the Ukraine war, the pandemic and ongoing supply chain disruptions in critical trading hubs like China. It is further evidence that our strong health response has been the right one for the economy”.
Robertson concedes there are significant challenges for families and business right now. Continue reading “Why several Labour MPs (whose futures are in electoral jeopardy) will be hoping for miracles in this year’s Budget” →